Serena Ryder Unlikely Emergency

Serena Ryder Unlikely Emergency
Upon the first listen of Serena Ryder’s latest, one is amazed that this voice, which is so powerful and so unwavering, belongs to a singer that has yet to pass her 21st year. Her three-octave range and soulful delivery display a confidence and timbre beyond her years. Ryder’s raw ability is best felt when you catch one of her live performances. Ryder foreshadows what the listener is in for right from the disc’s a cappella opener "Sing Sing” when she belts out "Don’t you dare hold nothing back/ you gotta sing sing sing sing out loud …” That’s exactly what the Peterborough native does for the next 40-plus minutes. Produced by respected Canadian musician Hawksley Workman, Unlikely Emergency was recorded in just three intense days in the studio. Workman wanted to capture Ryder’s live vibe and the record succeeds in this goal. Other sure-fire singles are "Every Single Day,” which echoes Sheryl Crow with its sunny vibe, and "Again by You.” The disc closes with another a cappella song, which has also become Ryder’s trademark closer in her live shows — the stunning "At Last” — popularised by Etta James.

What was the concept for the video you just shot for "Just Another Day”? It was pretty simple, but it was just beautiful. We worked a lot on lighting and composition. We did it in a loft apartment… just me hanging out in my room with a lot of close-up shots of me singing to the camera. It was more about performance than anything. It was a blast. I got to lay on this really, really comfortable bed that I probably won’t be able to afford ever in my life.

What was it like recording with Hawksley Workman? It was totally great. We are friends and it was really easy to do. What ended up happening was that Hawksley and I and the band just went into the studio and finished it in three days — it was all live off the floor. I just said to everyone, "just play whatever you want to play” because I love how they play. It was a big jam session that was pretty laid back. It was awesome.

What was it like opening for Steve Earle in Australia last year? It was quite an honour. I was kind of lucky though because obviously I knew who Steve Earle was, but I didn’t really know any of his music before I went on the road with him, so meeting him I wasn’t freaking out, which was really helpful because we could actually have real conversations and talk to each other like people, which was great and probably refreshing for him as well. We had a lot of fun hanging out — we hung out every day, went record shopping, had lunch and stuff like that and I ended up singing back up for he and his band. (Isadora)